Untitled (Dead Bird)
ink, watercolor, graphite on paper
15.9 x 22.9cm
Shoplifting images from art history, John Kleckner’s drawings subscribe to a complex relationship between authorship, contemporary art, and its lineage. Rejecting post-modern notions of appropriation as allegory, Kleckner engages in the old masters’ tradition of studying his predecessors – not as a means of perfecting technique – but to satiate his desire to infiltrate and possess the immaculate. Attracted to the timeless subject matter of portraiture, mythology, and botanical motifs, Kleckner recomposes archival prints and paintings as a way to make them his own.
Through Kleckner’s reconsideration, his subjects are edited or embellished to reflect his own designs and style: complications are simplified, backgrounds omitted, and are figures adapted to respond to ‘off screen’ actions. Illustrated with painstaking intricacy, Kleckner embraces ‘drawing for drawing’s sake’. His process of ultra fine pen and watercolour on paper often propels his images into unexpected directions.
Combining the hard-edge of illustration with the delicate washes of watercolour, Kleckner’s work attains a literary mannerism reminiscent of the Pre-Raphaelites. Kleckner’s beauty, however, is an uncomfortable entity. Gravitating between abstraction and figuration, his subjects are often disembodied or marred, their grotesque depictions diffusing into bursts of luscious mark-making.